Servicing a socket wrench will only take a few minutes, and the difference in feel afterwards is very noticeable. You can do this service on an older ratchet or a brand new one. The idea is to disassemble everything and pack the internals with grease, since these ratchets are dry from the factory. The procedure to take apart a wrench will be the same for the vast majority of Craftsmans.
So let’s begin. Locate the retaining clip…
…and remove the clip:
Now you can grab the ratchet gear and pull it straight up and out. The silver retaining washer underneath will come off with it.
Next, remove the mesh gear that still remains. This part is what makes the ratchet click, and the switch handle on the opposite will pop off as well.
Looking inside, you should only see a small ball bearing that was under the mesh gear. Remove this ball bearing. There’s a spring underneath it, but I just left that in.
So now you should have the ratchet gear, retaining washer, c-clip, mesh gear, switch handle, and ball bearing removed. Use some contact cleaner like WD-40 or brake cleaner, and give everything a scrub.
Time to reassemble. First, grab your choice of grease and line the inside of the ratchet head with it. I personally used Mobil 1 Synthetic grease.
Place the ball bearing back on top of the spring, and then position in the mesh gear. The splined teeth side of the mesh gear faces up, towards the ratchet gear. On the bottom side, there are two grooves, so make sure the ball bearing is properly seated under one of those grooves.
In the picture below, you can see that the mesh gear is seated but the switch handle is still off to the side… Don’t wait, I found it easiest to reinstall the handle while you are putting in the mesh gear, rather than at the end.
Put a little more grease on top of the mesh gear, then slide in the ratchet gear. Simply line up the splines with the ones on the mesh gear. Add more grease for good measure (okay, this is a bit excessive, but it gets the point across).
Now, push back on the retaining washer piece to seal everything up. Pop on the c-clip, clean off the excess grease, and you are done.
Try it out! Not only is the mechanism much smoother, but it should help the gears last longer. I’m guessing the reason why these socket wrenches aren’t greased from the factory is because of cost-cutting.
Either way, it’s easy to do this yourself, so do it today!